I’m Not the Problem

I have tried talking to her, ignored the situation, threatened to leave, but nothing changes. I’ve tried to get her to go to counseling, but she won’t go. I have told her what I need until I am blue in the face.  Nothing’s ever going to change.


This is paraphrased from one conversation I recently had, but honestly, I’ve had this same general conversation many times with different many people in different parts of the country from all walks of life. The underlying and unspoken words are:

I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do; I’m not the problem….she is.  Could you please fix my spouse for me?


If I had the fix-your-spouse-for-you pill, I would have more money than I can imagine or begin to quantify. But even if I had it, I’m not sure I would use it.


Because it’s not the answer.


If I could get your wife to stand on her head and do all the things you want her to do so that you could feel appreciated…respected…understood…happy… then she becomes your puppet, rather than an individual with her own choices and preferences and needs. Is that really what you want?


Not only is it not the answer, it’s also not the truth.


Your wife probably could do better at being in relationship with you – after all, no one has ever taught her how to create and sustain healthy, loving, connected relationships.

But you can also do better.  You can also be better. And it’s not your fault because no one ever taught you either.


This is the truth.


If yelling, making demands, issuing ultimatums, telling one another what to do,  and avoiding conflict worked, not only would our spouses do as they’re told, but so would others in our lives.


He doesn’t want to change. He wants her to change. He is not the problem. She is.

And therein lies the rub…and a lot of unnecessary suffering.


Here’s the teachable part:

Every single one of us can do better so that our relationships can be better.

Every single one of us has room to grow and baggage that we no longer need to carry with us and wounds that need to be healed.

Every single one of us could engage or communicate in a new way in order to elicit a response that’s more in line with the result we’re wanting to create.

Changing ourselves is hard to do, but changing ourselves is the only thing we have any control over.

Someone has to take the lead in creating change in the relationship, why can’t it be you?